Diet Drinks Linked To Heart Trouble For Older Women


Drinking two or more diet drinks a day may increase the risk of heart disease, including heart attack and stroke, in otherwise healthy postmenopausal women, according to a new University of Iowa study.

women who consume two or more diet drinks a day are 30% more likely to have a cardiovascular event and 50% more likely to die from related disease.

The study, which analyzed diet drink intake and cardiovascular health in almost 60,000 women participating in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study, found that compared to women who rarely or never consume diet drinks, those who consume two or more a day are 30% more likely to have a cardiovascular event and 50% more likely to die from related disease.

"This is one of the largest studies on this topic, and our findings are consistent with some previous data, especially those linking diet drinks to the metabolic syndrome,” says Dr.Ankur Vyas, a fellow in cardiovascular disease at UI Hospitals and Clinics, and the lead investigator of the study.

About one in five people in the U.S. consume diet drinks on a given day, according to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2009-10). But, according to Vyas, there is a relative lack of data about the cardiovascular health consequences of diet drinks.

Based on self-reported consumption of diet drinks over a three-month period, the researchers divided the 59,614 study participants into four consumption groups: two or more diet drinks a day, five to seven diet drinks per week, one to four diet drinks per week, and zero to three diet drinks per month. Each drink was defined as the equivalent of a 12-ounce beverage and included both diet sodas and diet fruit drinks.

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After an average follow-up of 8.7 years, the primary outcome—defined as a composite of incident coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, heart attack, coronary revascularization procedure, ischemic stroke, peripheral arterial disease, and cardiovascular death—occurred in 8.5% of the women consuming two or more diet drinks a day compared to 6.9% in the five-to-seven diet drinks per week group; 6.8% in the one-to-four drinks per week group; and 7.2% in the zero-to-three per month group.

The association persisted even after researchers adjusted the data to account for demographic characteristics and other cardiovascular risk factors, including body mass index, smoking, hormone therapy use, physical activity, energy intake, salt intake, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and sugar-sweetened beverage intake. On average, women who consumed two or more diet drinks a day were younger, more likely to be smokers, and had a higher prevalence of diabetes, high blood pressure, and higher body mass index.

But Vyas says the association between diet drinks and cardiovascular problems raises more questions than it answers, and should stimulate further research.

Future research could include clinical studies, animal models, and even molecular and pharmacologic analyses to begin to explain what, if any, direct role diet drinks play in heart health.


Source:  The University of Iowa Iowa Now, American College of Cardiology